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Thursday, May 15, 2008
Can't wait to see these things this fall

By Ivan Maisel and Mark Schlabach
ESPN.com

Three Things I Can't Wait To See This Fall In The WAC
Ivan Maisel
Mark Schlabach
1. After Boise State and Hawaii crashed the BCS the past two years, the WAC is asking in slogan fashion, "Who's Next?" The answer is no one. Both the Broncos and the Warriors are rebuilding. Fresno State has the most experience, but the Bulldogs' typically brutal September -- road trips to Rutgers, Toledo and UCLA and a home game against Wisconsin -- should have at least one loss in there.

Ian Johnson2. Ian Johnson returns for his final season at Boise State with decidedly less fanfare than he had a year ago. More importantly, he has only one returning offensive lineman, Andrew Woodruff, in front of him. In other words, no matter whom head coach Chris Petersen picks at quarterback, Boise State will go through some growing pains.

3. A year ago, under rookie coach Derek Dooley, Louisiana Tech started slowly (1-4) and finished fast (4-3). The Bulldogs have the advantage of eight returning starters on offense and familiarity with Dooley. But the schedule suggests they will start slowly again. Tech opens with Mississippi State and at Kansas, and plays its first two WAC games at Boise State and at Hawaii. If the Bulldogs start 1-4 again, don't give up on them.
Colin Kaepernick1. Will the pistol replace the run 'n' shoot as the toughest offense to beat in the WAC? With June Jones taking his high-powered attack from Hawaii to SMU, Nevada might have the most feared offense in the WAC. Wolf Pack coach Chris Ault has two established quarterbacks: Nick Graziano and sophomore Colin Kaepernick, who threw for 2,175 yards with 19 touchdowns and only three interceptions in 2007.

2. Can Boise State re-establish its dominance in the WAC? After winning five consecutive league titles from 2002 to 2006, the Broncos took a step back -- albeit a small one -- with a 10-3 record in 2007. Coach Chris Petersen must find a new starting quarterback (senior Bush Hamdan and freshman Kellen Moore are the top candidates going into preseason camp) and revamp his team's offensive line. It will be easier if senior tailback Ian Johnson regains his form after a somewhat disappointing 2007 campaign.

3. After an uncharacteristic 4-8 finish in 2006, Fresno State seemed to lose its footing as one of college football's best non-BCS teams. But the Bulldogs rebounded to finish 9-4 last season, beating Georgia Tech 40-28 in the Humanitarian Bowl. With a September schedule that includes a road opener at Rutgers, a home game against Wisconsin and a road game at UCLA, Fresno State has a chance to re-establish itself as the sport's best underdog.